The trailer for Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus has become a bit of a YouTube sensation. Apparently someone mentioned the movie on MTV, and now the trailer is closing in on a half-million views.
It’s not hard to see why. The film contains four ingredients that, taken separately, would contribute to the success of any movie. All together, they are undeniable. Those ingredients are:
- A mega shark
- A giant octopus
- Lorenzo Lamas
- Deborah “Debbie” Gibson
If all that doesn’t immediately trigger the thought in your head that this may be the greatest movie ever made, then you should probably go to the doctor because you may, in fact, be a zombie (please don’t eat the doctor).
Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus is from the infamous production company, the Asylum. MS v. GO does not fall into the category, but the Asylum’s specialty is “mockbusters.” A mockbuster is a low-budget film that is similar to a major release and released around the same time in order to capitalize on the existing publicity. For example, when the Stephen Spielberg adaptation of War of the Worlds came out, the Asylum released H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds to DVD the day before (the book both are based on is in the public domain).
The folks at The Asylum have been quite clever in using (free) literary sources. To cash in on Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest, they released Pirates of Treasure Island, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. When Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong was released, they put out King of the Lost World, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, only with a giant ape in place of the dinosaurs. (This also serves as a tip of the hat to Willis C. O’Brien, who did the stop-motion animation for the 1925 version of The Lost World before doing the same for the original version of King Kong).
They even hearkened back to a previous generation of “tie-ins” (as they call them at the Asylum) by releasing Alan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls at the same time as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Children of the ’80s may recall that H. Rider Haggard’s adventurer had previously been used as an Indiana Jones stand-in in Cannon Films’ King Solomon’s Mines and Allen Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold.
But literary inspiration is not required at the Asylum. Their other productions include Snakes on a Train, The 9/11 Commission Report (to capitalize on the heavily-publicized, excellent, and suppressed miniseries The Path to 9/11), The Day the Earth Stopped, and what may be my favorite movie title of all time, Transmorphers. When I stumbled across the existence of Transmorphers, I laughed for about ten minutes straight.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is being released in a few weeks. The Asylum will, of course, be releasing Transmorphers: The Fall of Man at roughly the same time. Awesome!
I haven’t seen any of these movies, although quite a few Asylum films air on the Sci-Fi Channel so that little problem should be corrected before too long. Don’t worry–I will be armed with plenty of beer so my sanity should remain intact.
Postscript: Here is a New York Times article on the Asylum and mockbusters.